Brian Provinciano is the founder of Vblank Entertainment, and if you love indie gems then you’ll probably have heard of his previous title, retro City Rampage. A sequel, set some years later and embracing the 16-BIT era called Shakedown Hawaii has been announced so we thought we would find out more.
Hi Brian, thanks for taking the time to speak to us! Can you tell us a little bit about Vblank?
Vblank got going in 2009, three years before the release of Retro City Rampage. I’m the sole employee, but work with many contactors for art and audio.
Shakedown Hawaii is your follow up title to the well-received Retro City Rampage. What’s new this time around?
Shakedown Hawaii shifts both the tone and gameplay, so while it’ll still be familiar to RCR fans, it takes things in a new direction. The destructible environments paired with super charged weapons gives a new level of interactivity, and the mission structure is more of a cross between Crackdown and GTA than GTA on its own. There’s a lot more to it than that, but I’m going to wait a bit longer to get into that, as to not spoil everything so early.
RCR tapped into many cultural references from the time the game was set. Can we expect the same again from Shakedown Hawaii?
The theme veers away from the references and pop culture send ups of RCR for a more contemporary satire, thus not being branded as “RCR2”. I have many new stories to tell, and wasn’t ready to just do the same thing again by doing a direct sequel.
Has it been difficult developing this game following on from the praise and expectations from a previous title?
As much as I believe in the new game, it’s a risk no matter which direction you take, so I indeed had a lot of anxiety. It was a huge relief to see how well received the announcement was, despite the new directions I’ve taken. Having done an 8-BIT styled game, everyone could imagine what they thought a 16-BIT one would look like, and if it didn’t match their imagination, they could be disappointed. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case from what I’ve seen.
Moving away from the references and send ups of RCR, a staple which so many players loved, paired with aging the player to be in his late 50s with a balding hairline, and even not branding it “RCR2” were all big risks. But this is the story I want to tell, the game I want to make, so I just have to trust myself. There was no shortage of second guessing along the way.
What made you want to bring this title to the Vita?
RCR did well on both the PS Vita and 3DS and really gravitates towards a handheld experience, so without question I wanted to continue supporting the platforms. The pixel art really shines on the screens. Also, as a player, I also do most of my gaming on PS Vita, so I want to see the platform keep going as long as possible.
Will there be any notable differences between the Vita version and other systems?
Not really. It will default to the more zoomed in camera, but you can even flip it over to the console style camera if you prefer smaller sprites but a larger screen area. If at all possible, I always want people to enjoy the gamer to its fullest, no matter which platform they play it on, as long as the system’s powerful enough.
Do you have a release date in mind for Shakedown Hawaii?
I’m hoping for this year, but if not, early next. The focus right now is making the game as good as possible, so it’s all about, when it’s ready.
You offered RCR in a limited edition release. Is this something you are thinking about again for Shakedown Hawaii?
I’d love to do a retail release of Shakedown Hawaii, although I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do it for launch. It all depends on how much time there is between gold master and the ultimate release date. I’d also like to polish off and release the unreleased PSP version of Retro City Rampage DX on UMD if the factory’s still in operation when Shakedown’s done, but finishing Shakedown first is my top priority
What games have impressed you the most on the Vita?
I honestly still play Spelunky the most. Even when I pick up new titles, I keep going back to Spelunky.
Our final question is a tricky one! What do you think is the better Vita model, the OLED or the Slim?
The Vita slim is much more comfortable and the lighter weight a noticeable bonus. I do prefer the OLED screen, but if something happened to my OLED one, I wouldn’t mind migrating to the slim. The slim’s screen is still great, and only nit-picked because we have the original to directly compare to. The screens on so many of the other handheld and mobile devices are LCD too, but the quality is never questioned because they’ve never had anything to be directly compared to.
We would like to thank Brian for his time with this interview! We will bring you more news on Shakedown Hawaii as we have it!
This article first appeared in April issue of The Vita Lounge Magazine. Look out for more exclusive and magazine first content in the magazine soon!